Bearded Theory in 100 words
Eclectic mixture of bands from genres including punk, ska, folk, indie, bhangra and rock. Family friendly festival with craft fun in Angel Garden for children. Wholesome food and drink from amiable staff at reasonable prices. Genuinely lovely atmosphere with smiling faces everywhere you look. Beautiful countryside setting. Fake facial hair and fancy dress frivolity. Five areas of music ensures there is always something to entertain. Acoustic tent ideal for chill out to see up and coming acts. Dancing everywhere…this is a festival where you have to get involved. Constant entertainment with party van and fire shows. We love Bearded Theory.
The Bearded Theory festival….a festival right on my very doorstep, which of course has the added bonus that I don’t have to spend the night in a tent. Marvellous.
We arrive and from the off there is a bit of a special atmosphere about this place, and its is no surprise that thoroughout the weekend it is constantly described as the Festival of Love…infact it is said so many times that it should indeed incorporate it as a sub heading.
First band on the first day has to be a daunting position to be in, but WitchDoktors rise to the challenge perfectly you could almost say that they hit the ground running. Their unique crossover between Punk and Rockabilly is an intoxicating mix and its not long before they have the crowd up and dancing. People are still arriving and walking through the festival to pitch their tents but so many of them stop to have a look at this band that has literally grabbed the festival by the throat. Word spreads that they’re on and this is something that shouldn’t be missed. Their tribute song to Johnny Cash Big Black Slack has the crowd fully onside now and the lead singer uses this as a chance to Promote the fact that their album 3 Dollar Hooker is available at the merchandise. Nice Salesmanship, Sir !
Then its over to the Tornado Town tent where 10 o’clock Horses are in full swing’ they are recieving an enthusiastic welcome which is no surprise given that they describe themselves as the festival party band. They have a mesmerising Celtic sound which sets the temp for the rest of the festival.
Back on the main stage Imperial Leisure (no soap jokes please) are storming through their set, indeed they already seem to have a legion of fans. It is of great surprise when speaking to them after their successful performance that a couple of the band members were actually new to the group and this was their first live appearance with the band. Crikey! This is astonishing as their set sounded as tight and well rehearsed.
Running back over to the Tornado Town Tent ( I’m glad I wore comfy shoes) I get there in time to see Zora and the Tatsmiths who continue with the Celtic theme started in the Tornado Tent by the 10 o’clock horses. She is certainly a talent to watch; female fronted folk music is obviously extremely popular here as she is attracting quite a crowd who obviously like her raw edged lyrics.
Comfy shoes still witholding I race back to the main stage – Luckily one of the other joys about the Bearded Theory festival is that the stages are not too far apart, Just as well as I fear my legs would not have lasted the day ! - Travelling Band are one of the bands who have been talked about before I came to the festival with people urging me to see them.One of the band asks “we all have beards in this band, do you think that’s why they asked us to play?” and judging by the crowds reaction I’m guessing there is a bit more to it. Their songs have a very Mumford and Sons feel to them which in their current situation is no bad position to be in as the Mumford’s first made their name on the festival circuit. It certainly feels like the festival in now up and started the two singers in ther bands haunting melodies meant that although the sun wasn’t shining it felt like it was.
Then its back to the Tornado tent after a quick snack, all this running about means I need to keep my energy up which means I only get to see a snippet of 360, but it looks like they are doing fine without me the crowd seem to lap up their enthusiasm.
As I walk back toward the main stage, yes I’m walking not racing by this point, I can hear the chorus of a familiar song ….The song is You spin me round (like a record). It’s Dr and the Medics that have appeared onstage and I’m sure I’m not the only person in the crowd that is wondering what the hell to expect – other than complete lunacy and madness. When they go into a cover of Billy idol’s White Wedding you know that party time has well and truly arrived and resistance from it is surely futile. This cover version is comlpete with the theatrics of a fake weddingof Medics frontman Clive ( The Dr sounds better) to his backing singer. The Dr asks “ does anyone know any just cause….” The crowd respond with shouts, “well it’s tough luck, I’ve got the microphone” and he continues with his nuptials. The band whip through a set of cover versions which are all party classics by any other name, we are asked to help out with the “wooah-ooo” bit during Kids in America which we duly oblige. It seems rude not to. It may now be raining but nothing is going to dampen the spirit of this crowd. The backing singer is then given the chance to shine with a rousing rendition of Proud Mary with moves that rival that of Tina Turner herself. “Do you want to hear one of ours?” Asks the Dr tentatively . When the crowd reply in the affirmative “Name one ! “ he retorts knowing full well that most of the crowd can’t. He does go onto play an original medics song I do it coz it makes my hair grow. We know that the Medic party is about to end as we hear the opening strains to Spirit in the Sky hard to believe that its 26 years since it reached the number one spot. Worryingly I seem to be the only person who knows the Anadin Brothers original dance moves to this but everyone seems to be doing a variation of sorts…..maybe it’s the alcohol.
Back over in the Tornado Tent Roughneck Riot now have to keep the entertainment ramped up. They are a bizarre mix of Punk and folk……I mean, a punk band with Banjo’s and accordion shouldn’t really work and I can see that on paper it sounds like a hard sell but the reality is shockingly different, with lead singer Matty’s rasping vocals over the melodic banjo sounding strangely hypnotic.
Terrorvision now have the enviable task of following on on the main stage from the madness of Dr and the Medics this has to be a bit of a challenge. Luckily Terrorvision aren’t your run of the mill rock band and Tony Wright is not your usual rock frontman either. There is no pouting and rock posturing from him and from the greeting of “ ’Allo we’re Terrorvision and we are from Bradford” to the quirky style of hand movement dance his cheeky and engaging persona shines through and makes them warm to him and the band even more. They are quickly into their stride and songs such as My House and Do ya wanna go faster are trotted out in quick succession followed by Alice, whats the Matter and that starts me thinking the thing about Terrorvision is that when you see them live you think you will probably only know a couple of songs but in the reality of a gig situation you realise just how much of their repertoire has seeped into your subconscious mind. The crafty blighters, how the hell did they do that?
Tequila – possibly Terrorvisions most famous song is greeted with an almighty cheer. Brave decision I thought doing one of their most popular songs so early in the set. Suddenly during Oblivion I see Tony launch up into the air landing on his knees. What was I saying about no rock posturing, now everyones warmed up that’s right out of the window and now Tony is channelling his inner rock god.Then something quite magical happens, Tony showcases a further talent. “We are one of those bands” he says “That when we play something people will go …oooh I didn’t know they did that”. Now subliminally putting their records into your head is one thing, but stealing your thoughts and telling everybody is quite another.
Among the old favourites there are new tracks, the standout one for me being the last single they have released Pushover if only for the great line “you told me, you told me that you were a rocker, but I caught you dancing to Madonna’ . Then they’re gone. Terrorvision your work here is done now time to conquer the world with your subliminal mind games.
Brighton based Los Albertos in the Tornado tent are no strangers to the festival scene and so its no surprise to see them at the Bearded Theory festival near the top of the bill for the Tent ( or the second stage as we have dubbed it. Their infectious grooves are drawing the punters in and the crowd is mesmerised by the funky ska beats and will no doubt dance all through this set and anyone else set too and well into the night.
Headlining The Tornado Tent is a ska-punk –hip-hop hybrid of noise Karl Phillips and the Midnight Ramblers. They have a slightly rockier edge than a lot of the acts that have been on today but it just makes them stand out from the crowd even more but I’m sorry guys I really can’t hang around regardless of the fact that you sound rather compelling because now the time is upon us …. it’s the time that I’ve been waiting for. Having been impressed with Adam Ant when I saw him at Nottingham Rock City I was eager to see if he could keep the momentum going. It was not only myself who had been impressed with Adam but he had been attracting rave reviews from the press. As a last minute replacement for the Levellers who had to pull out due to illness Adam has to win over a section of the crowd loyal to their favourite band. Even though there are many Ant fans in the crowd, distinguished by their red and black piratesque attire, there is still a section who are mourning the fact that their favourite band isn’t here. This may not be an easy ride for Adam.
Starting with an old track Plastic Surgery to keep Punk-era Adam fans happy it sens a signal to his fans that he should be remembered for the whole of his career and not just for the songs that graced the top fo the charts in the eighties, and boy does this chp have a back catalogue to choose from.
Then suddenly the amps blow onstage and power is gone completely not only is Adam winning over the Levellers fans but he is completely blowing the amps. He signals to the crowd that he will be back in 5 minutes when the problem has been rectified and after the passing of a couple of minutes the power is restored and he’s back onstage continuing where he left off. Its not long before the cry of Stand and Deliver makes everyone forget there was a problem as the Dandy Highwayman is back and for me at least it seems like he’s never been away with his billowing white shirt under his braided jacket adam has not completely abandoned his theatrical past and before we know it Kings of the Wild Frontier is upon us and we continue our rock and roll ride to the past.
Adam has by now been joined onstage by backing singer and all round siren Georgina Baillie, looking respendant and impossibly beautiful in her vintage style dress. She has a brief costume change into a tight fitting PVC outfit for the Different kind of lovesong Whip in my Valise mirroring the dark bondagesque undertones of the song.
We are then treated to new song Vince Taylor a song about the lead singer of a band called the Playboys and which can be found on Adams new album.( AdamAnt is the Blueback Hussar in Marrying the Gunners daughter’)
The heavy drumbeat of Adams two drummers signals to s that Antmusic is on its way and the crowd are once again in a 80’s fuelled frenzy. Goody Two Shoes keeps the frenetic pace that we have now become accustomed to.
Adam goes off for the encore and returns in the style that only he can. Prince Charming sounds revigerated, fresh and quite frankly better than anything that’s around at the moment. Georgie Girl as Adam refers to her as shows us all the dance moves….as if we need any prompting. One more song Physical and then the midnight curfew dictates that we can have no more. You could say as soon as I found my Prince Charming he disappeared again. Typical. Hope its not long before I see you again Adam, you are ever so slightly addictive.